Qantas cuts international capacity by 23 percent, grounds most Airbus A380

Photo: © Alan Wilson

Australian flag-carrier Qantas has on Tuesday announced further cuts to its global flight operations in wake of the Coronavirus crisis.

These reductions will also result in the airline temporarily grounding most of its Airbus A380 fleet. Of its twelve superjumbos, Qantas will suspend eight from flying. As two further ones are currently undergoing scheduled maintenance, it will leave the airline with only two A380s in the skies for the time being.

The Qantas Group, which includes low-cost subsidiary Jetstar, has outlined numbers for specific regions, where total capacity will be reduced. Globally, the offered seats are down by approximately 23 percent compared to the same time period last year. Asia is down by 31 percent, the United States by 19 percent, and the only country served in Europe, the United Kingdom, down by 17 percent. Capacity between Australia and neighboring New Zealand is being reduced by ten percent.

Cuts will be achieved by using smaller aircraft types, not by suspending routes entirely, the airline explains.

Apart from mainland China that is, where all flights have already been on halt since early-February. Selected flights on non-China routes might still be cancelled, including for example to Hong Hong or Japan.

Qantas itself has not announced any route closures. However, the planned launch of its new route between Brisbane and Chicago in April will be postponed until mid-September. Furthermore, its flagship Sydney-Singapore-London route would be changed to run via Perth with a Boeing 787 instead of Singapore with an Airbus A380. This results in Perth-London being a twice-daily connection now.

Even though its parent is not cutting routes, low-cost carrier Jetstar is suspending its Bangkok and Seoul services, and is reducing flights to Japan and Vietnam.

Jetstar’s affiliate airlines in Asia have made even more significant cuts to their networks. These airlines include Singapore-based Jetstar Asia, Vietnam-based Jetstar Pacific, and Jetstar Japan. All three have suspended most international flights.